Chinese Style Orange-Sesame Sauce

I have been playing around with this sauce recently. It is quite rich and dark in flavour – a current obsession of mine in the kitchen. Wintery flavours. This sauce is orangey with the depth of soy and a hint of sesame. It has sweet overtones. It goes well with anything deep fried – tofu, cauliflower, pakoda – or grilled items – eggplant slices for example – or roasted or stirfried veg – broccoli, cauliflower etc.

Use it as a coating sauce, dipping sauce (although it is quite thick) or spread the sauce on a plate and place ingredients on top of the sauce. I love roasted slices of eggplant and deep fried tofu on the sauce, scattered with tons of spring onions (scallions).

Today I made some deep fried cauliflower and coated them in the sauce for a delicious snack.

Similar recipes include Miso and Ginger Dressing, Orange Star Anise Sauce, and Chilli Soy Sauce.

Browse all of our Sauces and all of our Chinese recipes. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Roasted Cauliflower Tahini Puree

Another vegetable that can be blended into a puree to make a delightful dip, spread, or base for a vegetable dish, is cauliflower. Here I have made a puree from spiced, roasted cauliflower, but it can just as easily be made from steamed cauliflower (pop into the oven for 15 or 20 mins afterwards to remove excess moisture).

Here I have topped it with an Eggplant, Onion and Saffron dish (delicious), but it can be used with any vegetable dish, or simply layered with radishes, feta, grated carrot, pomegranate kernels, etc, and eaten with flatbread.

Similar dishes include Red Capsicum and Feta Dip, Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic and White Bean Puree, Cannellini Bean Puree with Pickled Mushrooms and Pitta Croutons, and Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin.

Browse all of our Cauliflower dishes and all of our Dips, Spreads, and Purees.

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Roasted Red Capsicum and Feta Dip and Spread

I love recipes that are endlessly versatile – dips and spreads that can use a variety of vegetables, bread recipes into which you can knead different flours, herbs, and liquids, soups that take almost anything that you have on your kitchen bench. These sorts of dishes are the lifeblood of the kitchen, using up what you have, what has arrived, what you’ve been given, what has ripened.

A great base for a dip is formed from any combination of feta, yoghurt, cream cheese, ricotta, and/or tahini. Into that puree can go some lightly cooked vegetable and flavourings. Nuts can be added to thicken and flavour the mix. It is endlessly malleable.

Today it is roasted red capsicum, feta, yoghurt and walnuts.

Similar recipes include Eggplant Spread, Horseradish Dip, and Beetroot and Yoghurt Dip.

Or simply browse all of our Dips and Spreads.

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Spicy Crushed Carrots with Yoghurt

Carrots are one of the best selling vegetables in North Africa because of their sweetness. Their sweetness is paired with both sour and spicy flavours in many dishes of the region – salads, tangines, pastries, desserts.

In this Moroccan dish, carrots are cooked and crushed to make a sharp and hot spread. Bring it to the table while still warm, on a platter with a pile of warm pitta breads. It makes a great starter or mezze dish.

This is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. We are cooking our way through Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our kitchen, garden, pantry and local shops. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Red Capsicum and Feta Dip, Moroccan Orange and Carrot SaladMoroccan Carrot Salad, and Spicy Moroccan Carrot Dip.

Browse all of our Moroccan recipes and all of our Carrot dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Sweet Potato Mash with Herb and Lime Salsa

Sometimes in Summer when the days are long and frightfully hot we love to eat mezze style – a pile of pitta bread and little dishes of things. Some feta, for example, halved tiny tomatoes with a cream dressing, some hummus, a plate of exquisite chickpeas. And some dips and purees. Today it is a sweet potato mash – this beautiful dish is made from roasted sweet potatoes and is topped with a salsa of lime zest, herbs and garlic. Truly it is divine.

The recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s Simple, and simple it is. Actually tonight I had some left over roasted sweet potato so it came together in not much more than 5 minutes. Yet the flavours of the tart salsa with the sweetness of the vegetable make this a memorable dish. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

The mash or spread works as a snack, mezze dish, starter and as a side. It is hardly any effort at all. The result is rich and punchy. After scooping out the flesh for this dish, save the skins and lightly roast them in the oven for a crisp-like snack. Brush them lightly with olive oil, roast for about 8 mins in a 200 – 220C oven and sprinkle with salt.

Similar dishes include Red Capsicum and Feta Dip, Moroccan Carrot Dip, Walnut and Pomegranate Dip, and Capsicum, Feta and Pistachio Dip.

Why not browse all of our Dips and our Sweet Potato recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Simple are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Root Mash with Wine-Braised Shallots

There’s nothing more marvellously Wintery than orange root vegetable mash; butter is all it needs.It has been icy here in the mornings – the type of morning you wish you had a wood fire to light, one you could put your old coffee pot on top of and have it bubbling away in no time. One you could heat the soup on and dry the clothes in front of.

But the Wintery mash is all I have. Why not jazz it up with lentils and top with a warming shallot stew!

This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. Although we’ve cooked enough Ottolenghi to feel free to channel him when we adjust ingredients to suit our tastes, style and pantry, this recipe is pretty much the same as the one that appears in the Guardian.

Similar recipes include Easy Pumpkin and Coconut Curry, Spicy Crushed Carrots with Yoghurt, Sweet Potato Mash with Lime Salsa, Mashed Potatoes, Parsnip Mash, and Carrot and Parsnip Mash.

Browse all of our Celeriac, Carrots, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book.

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Zucchini, Makrut (Kaffir) Lime Leaf, Yoghurt Salad

Yoghurt salads are made the world over, except, perhaps, in English speaking and some European countries. It is a puzzle why we don’t make more use of them here in Australia with our temperatures up to 45C in Summer. Yoghurt is one of the most cooling ingredients. Here I use makrut lime leaves (the new name for kaffir limes) with zucchini and garlic to make a great hot day dip or salad. We often have them around afternoon tea time, with some crisp crackers (like our Galletti), with other salads and some flatbread for lunch, or as a precursor to dinner.

Similar dishes include Green Mango Pachadi, Roasted Eggplant with Saffron Yoghurt, and Onion Pachadi.

Browse all of our Yoghurt dishes and all of our Raita.

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Guacamole | Avocado Dip and Spread

This household was eating avocados long before they became de rigueur in the Australian cafe sub-cuisine. This is how we have been making guacamole since the 1990’s.

The most basic guacamole is simply avocado mashed with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. The velvety texture of avocado, and the zing of the lime that cuts through the smoothness just as you’re getting comfortable with it. Then comes the bite of the garlic. The flavours  blend beautifully together and yet at the same time, all flavours are distinctly identifiable.

The good thing is that the basic recipe can be endlessly varied. We include a number of variations in our recipe below – tomato, coriander, chilli, sour cream, yoghurt – all manner of things can be added to the basic blend. You can vary guacamole so each time you make it, it is different.

Some say that leaving the avocado stone in the puree will prevent discolouration. My view is that if the guacamole’s around long enough to find out, you’re not doing it right.

Are you after other Avocado dishes? Try Cold Avocado Soup, Avocado and Strawberry Salad, and Avocado Smash with Radishes.

You can browse all of our Avocado recipes and Salsa dishes. Check out our easy Late Summer recipes too.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.

Guacamole

Guacamole | Mexican-Style Avocado Salsa

basic recipe
2 ripe medium avocados or 1 very large one
juice 1 lemon or 1 – 2 limes
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and black pepper to taste

optional additions prior to mashing or blending – if mashing, dice or grate the onion, fresh chilli and tomato finely, or if blending, chop coarsely
mayonnaise, creme fraiche, sour cream or yoghurt
1 small tomato
chilli powder to taste, or 1-2 fresh green chillies
a little white onion
leaves from 4 – 5 springs fresh coriander, chopped

optional additions after blending
0.5 – 1 green or red pepper, diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 small cucumber, finely diced
pitted olives, chopped
1 tomato, diced

method
Gather together the basic recipe ingredients and any additions to be added prior to mashing or blending. Mash or blend in a food processor or blender until creamy.

Add any further additions after blending (if any) and stir. It is best not to double up on ingredients – for example, if you add onion prior to blending, don’t add chopped onion after blending.

Taste, and adjust seasonings (chilli, lemon, salt, pepper). Serve with tortillas and corn chips.

Guacamole | Mexican-Style Avocado Salsa

recipe notes and alternatives.
Mashing the avocado with a fork or back of a spoon can produce a chunky guacamole (I love it!), or use a blender or food processor for a smooth one.

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Baigan Choka | Trinidad Style

The Trinidad style of Baigan Choka is very simple when compared with the many varieties of Baigan Chokha from India and of the closely related dish, Baingan Bharta. The Trinidad version is lighter and simpler in flavours, but still so delicious. I am constantly amazed how a simple shift in ingredients can create an utterly different dish.

This style of eggplant dip is served with roti, naan, paratha or other flatbread. This recipe, one of Ottolenghi’s, uses hot oil flavoured with onion and some vigorous whisking to achieve a wonderful creaminess and subtlety. To make it even milder, leave out the garlic and use less chilli, if you like, but I like it spicy and will sometimes add a squeeze of lemon juice. Not traditional but I like the way it brings all the flavours together.

As mentioned, it is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. We have not made changes in this recipe, but for his original writings check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Crushed Potatoes with Roasted Eggplant and Tomato, Begun Pora, and Baingan ka Bharta.

Browse all of our Eggplant dishes and all of our Bharta recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. If you are interested, all of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Summer recipes.

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Tomato Salad with Feta, Za’atar and Turmeric Oil

We’ve been eating babaganoush today, smoky and divine, topped with some roasted and charred veggies and herbs. To go with it we piled tomatoes, feta and Middle Eastern spices onto a plate and drizzled it with our turmeric oil. It is very special, even in Winter when the tomatoes are not at their finest.

Similar recipes include Tomato Carpaccio, Burghul, Pistachio and Tomato Salad, Fennel, Potato and Tomato Salad with Garlicky Mayo, and Warm Tomato Salad.

Browse all of out Tomato Salads and all of our Salads. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

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